Australia shares rise on US stimulus; NZ hits 2-week high

Australian shares settled higher for a third straight session on Thursday, as investor sentiment was lifted by the U.S. Senate passing a massive stimulus package to mitigate the economic blow from the coronavirus epidemic and curb its spread. The S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 2.3% to 5,113.30, its highest close in a week, after Wednesday’s 5.5% gain. The Senate passed the $2 trillion bill to help unemployed workers and industries hurt by the epidemic, as well as to provide much-needed funding to buy urgently needed medical equipment. The bill provides, among others, at least $100 billion for hospitals and related health systems. In Australia, the healthcare sector, which is heavily exposed to the U.S. market, was among the biggest gainers in the index, adding 6.5%. Also helping the sector was a weaker Australian dollar as these companies earn a significant portion of their revenue overseas. Biotech company CSL Ltd advanced 6.2%, while Sonic Healthcare jumped nearly 10%. However, doubts regarding the effectiveness of measures taken to cushion the economic blow remained, with the local market likely focussing more on reaction from China, the country’s largest trading partner. “The U.S. package will have an impact here but the economy that the Australian… Read full this story

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